New York's Attorney General is telling New Yorkers to be alert about "a slew of new and shameful tactics to exploit" New Yorkers.

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On Tuesday, New York Attorney General Letitia James issued an alert to New Yorkers to remain watchful against potential scams related to the COVID-19 public health crisis.

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As more New Yorkers become eligible for the vaccine and a new round of stimulus payments are sent out scammers are seeking to take advantage of innocent New Yorkers by making fraudulent promises, officials say.

Fraudsters are pretending to be with the IRS or other federal agencies in an effort to access consumers’ personal information by promising access to additional stimulus payments, the ability to skip lines for vaccines and provide other needed services, according to James.

“Scammers are out there, and they are continuing to find a slew of new and shameful tactics to exploit this pandemic,” James stated. “These cyberattacks are just the latest example of unscrupulous individuals capitalizing on health and economic suffering. Promises to skip the vaccine line or receive additional stimulus payments are lies, plain and simple, and New Yorkers need to remain alert. I encourage all New Yorkers to follows these safety tips and report suspected scams to my office. We remain committed to protecting consumers’ health and wallets and rooting out fraud.”

James adds her office has received recent reports of scammers posing as the “IRS Rescue Plan Dept” and attempting to steal people’s personal and financial information through malicious messages, known as phishing emails. To make these scams even more deceiving, the emails may include the IRS logo to establish credibility, and often could have an official-sounding subject line, like “IRS Rescue Plan Act.” In other instances, the subject lines have read: “Joe Biden Rescue Plan Act,” “IRS Rescue Plan Form,” or “President’s Rescue Plan Act."

Attorney General James highlighted the following tips for New Yorkers to follow in an effort to protect themselves from these scams:

  • Don’t be fooled by familiar logos and branding. It’s easy for attackers to design emails that look safe and legitimate at first glance. If someone claims to be from the government with a check or a vaccine, it may be a phishing scam that is illegally trying to obtain a consumer’s bank account or other personal information.
  • Look for misspellings and poor grammar. While not always present, emails that contain multiple spelling and grammatical mistakes offer a clear indication that the email is malicious.
  • Never open attachments or click links from those claiming to be from the government unless you have specifically signed up for a notification or an email.
  • Clicking on buttons, such as “Apply Now,” or downloading attachments may enable scammers to download malicious software onto computers that will steal consumers’ personal information, including email addresses, passwords, and other vitally important, yet confidential information.
  • If a consumer is unsure about a message, they should delete it right away.
  • Verify the legitimacy of any unsolicited/unexpected email before interacting with it, especially if the IRS or COVID-19 is mentioned in any way.
  • Consumers need to proactively sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine. If a consumer is eligible for a stimulus payment, they will receive a payment directly from the IRS.

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